May 08, 2020

Wyden to Introduce Legislation to Allow Credit Unions to Better Serve Small Businesses During COVID-19 Crisis

The legislation will help under-banked and under-served small businesses struggling to receive equal access to federal relief

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced today that he will introduce legislation next week to allow more lending flexibility for credit unions to better serve their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Access to Credit for Small Businesses Impacted by the COVID–19 Crisis Act builds on Wyden's work to help under-banked and under-served small businesses receive equal access to federal small business relief. 

"Our banking system has left the mom and pop shops on Main Street behind during this crisis. These small businesses are desperate for relief. They want to pay their employees, and they want to pay their bills so that when it's safe they can reopen their doors. They shouldn't be denied relief because they don't have an account at a big bank," Wyden said. "Congress needs to do more to help community lenders better serve our small businesses as they weather this storm. The next COVID stimulus package must include this help for credit unions."

For over twenty years, credit unions have been subject to a federal member business lending cap, limiting credit unions from lending no more than 12.25% of their assets to small businesses. Given the urgent financial needs of so many small businesses because of the COVID-19 crisis, the Access to Credit for Small Businesses Impacted by the COVID–19 Crisis Act would provide a one-year exemption to the member business lending cap for loans made by credit unions to aid in COVID-19 crisis relief and recovery. There is a House companion bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

“As small businesses across the country face unprecedented economic hardships, expanding access to capital will be crucial to helping communities remain economically resilient in the face of this pandemic," said Credit Union National Association President/CEO Jim Nussle. "Sen. Wyden's proposal is a much needed solution that will leverage the strong relationships that credit unions have in their communities to help Main Street recover and rebuild from this crisis.”

“The Northwest Credit Union Association strongly supports the legislation introduced by Sen. Wyden. This legislation will allow credit unions to continue helping small businesses to open, grow, and survive these challenging times. Small businesses need credit unions, and we stand ready to answer their call. Now more than ever is the time to empower credit unions to serve more of their local small business members. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Wyden and his work on behalf of Main Street Businesses,” said Jennifer Wagner, EVP & Chief Advocacy Officer at Northwest Credit Union Association.

“We thank Senator Wyden for his leadership in supporting small businesses and credit unions as our nation grapples with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  We need smart, proactive solutions that help our economy get from crisis to recovery, and this legislation does just that by allowing credit unions to provide greater service to many of our nation’s smallest businesses as they face the tough economic challenges ahead. NAFCU supports this effort and we applaud Senator Wyden for introducing this important legislation," said Dan Berger, President and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU)

A copy of the legislative text is available here.